What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is a mental illness in which a person experiences obsessive thoughts and urges, or compulsive, repetitive behaviors. Some people have both obsessions and compulsions.
Read More about the diagnostic criteria for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5)
What are obsessions?
Sometimes known as obsessive thoughts or ruminations, obsessions are unwanted and recurrent thoughts, doubts, or images that intrude into one's mind despite attempts to resist or control them. They may be fleeting thoughts, or they may stick in one's mind for long periods of time despite attempts to dislodge them. They are upsetting and may cause anxiety, guilt and shame. They usually lead to compulsions and/or avoidance as people try to remove or control the thoughts, deal with the situations that the thoughts refer to, or reduce the distress. The thoughts may be about almost any content, but common themes include dirt and contamination and their effects on self or others, harm that one may cause to others or failure to prevent harm from occurring, personally unacceptable blasphemous, immoral, or sexual thoughts, or excessive preoccupation with moral, religious or existential questions*.
What are compulsions?
Compulsions, sometimes known as rituals, are behaviors that people feel pressured to do to reduce anxiety, guilt and distress, or to prevent harm from occurring. Compulsions are often repeated, conducted according to strict rules, and time consuming. Although the goal may be to reduce anxiety, performing them can also lead to distress and frustration. The pressure to engage in these behaviors can prevent people from doing other things that they wish to do and cause significant impact on their lives and the lives of those around them. Compulsions can take almost any form but common forms include washing and cleaning, checking, hoarding, ordering and arranging, and repeated questions. Many compulsions are overt, that is, they could be observed by others, for example, hand washing rituals. However, other compulsions are covert, that is, they could not be seen by others because they are of a mental nature, for example, mentally repeating sentences. Although many people may try to resist these behaviors, they may find themselves unable to do so either because of the distress caused by resisting them or because they believe that the consequences of not performing the compulsion are unacceptably dangerous*.
Who is affected by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
OCD affects millions of people. Approximately 1 in 40 adults in the U.S. (about 2.3% of the population) and 1 in 100 children have this condition.
HOWIE MANDEL TALKS ABOUT LIVING WITH OCD | 20/20 | ABC NEWS
Severe cases of OCD are much more likely than moderate cases to be reported to mental health professionals. Unfortunately, current research indicates that only a minority of people with severe cases of OCD receive treatment directly for their OCD.
OCD has the third highest proportion of seriously disabling cases among mental health disorders, surpassed only by bipolar disorder and drug dependence. In addition, many people with moderate OCD have impairments as severe as those found in severe cases of other mental disorders.
Fortunately, effective treatment is available today, and people with OCD can get relief.
Treatment Options for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
It is human nature to want quick and easy, “magic bullet” solution to life’s problems. While someone with OCD would like there to be an easy way to remove symptoms, there really is no such thing. While not perfect, for some OCD medications can help reduce symptoms from 60 to 70 percent.
As with any chronic illness, such as asthma or diabetes, medication does not provide a cure for OCD. For some, proper medication can reduce obsessions and anxiety. Meds can be an extremely useful tool, along with evidence-based behavioral therapy, as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Research indicates that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) have been shown to benefit people living with OCD. Another type of behavioral therapy shown effective for OCD is known as Exposure and Response Prevention (E&RP).
Get Help for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Those diagnosed with OCD may require inpatient care. Others may need other types of treatment such as medication and behavioral therapy.
The professional and compassionate team at The Woodlands Integrative Care can help create a personalized and comprehensive treatment plan. While OCD is chronic, many people with OCD learn to manage symptoms and have healthy productive lives.
Call us today (281) 383-9366 to set up a complimentary consultation.
* National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Core Interventions in the Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Leicester (UK): British Psychological Society; 2006. (NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 31.) Appendix 15, Diagnostic criteria. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56452/